The Paw Print
The Adams State College Grizzlies had their winning streak of four consecutive duals snapped on Friday night at Plachy Hall by the Fort Hays State University Tigers, who came back from a 7-3 deficit early on to win the dual by a final score of 27-17.
The Grizzlies, ranked no. 14 in the nation for Division II, fell to 6-4 overall and to 3-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
The Tigers, ranked no. 17, notched their fourth consecutive victory of the season to improve to 5-3 overall and to 3-0 in the RMAC. It was their first victory of the season against a higher-ranked opponent.
The Grizzlies jumped out to a quick lead, winning two of the first three matches. Senior Arsenia Barksdale, who is ranked third in the nation this year at 125 pounds, started things out by claiming a 4-1 victory over Tigers senior Tommy Edgmon, the nation’s top-ranked wrestler in the weight class.
Barksdale carried a 2-0 lead after the second period, the result of a locked hands violation on Edgmon, and an escape. Edgmon got an escape to bring the score to 2-1 before Barksdale sealed the victory with a takedown late in the period. Barksdale improved to 13-5 on the season, including a 5-1 mark in duals, and now holds a 3-0 career record over Edgmon, including a 3-1 win to capture the national title in 2009.
After Barksdale’s win, Tigers sophomore Travis Kuhn came from three points down to win a close 8-7 decision over Grizzlies junior A.J. Alexander at 133 pounds. Alexander led 7-2 at one point in the second period after collecting three takedowns, but Kuhn came storming back with escape and takedown combinations to capture the victory.
Grizzlies sophomore Josh Hensley, the top-ranked wrestler at 141 pounds, added four points to make the score 7-3 with an impressive 12-2 major decision over the nation’s number-two wrestler, Tigers junior Andre Harrison. With the victory, Hensley improved to 21-3 overall for the season, including a perfect 10-0 mark in duals. Harrison’s record fell to 15-4, with a 6-2 record in duals.
The Tigers then went on a streak of 24 unanswered points, winning the next five matches, starting with Tigers senior Levi Younkin’s narrow 11-9 decision over Grizzlies freshman Daniel Kelly at 149 pounds. Kelly, a true freshman, had won four straight matches since having his redshirt pulled, is still a very solid 17-6 on the season, while Younkin improved to 8-9 overall.
The Tigers got key victories by fall from sixth-ranked senior Danny Grater over fourth-ranked Joey Deaguero in a battle between 2-time All Americans at 157 pounds. The Tigers carried a 12-7 lead into the intermission.
Following the break, the Tigers got another victory by fall from eighth-ranked senior Blake Melloy over freshman Anthony Gomez at 165 pounds.
Tigers senior Shawn Kuhlman racked up six more points by default at 174 pounds before junior Chance Rencountre won a 5-2 decision over Grizzlies sophomore Torbin Walters at 197 pounds, extending the Tigers’ lead to 27-7. Walters had his streak of five consecutive wins snapped, and is now 13-7 overall, with an 8-2 mark in duals in his first season back on the squad following two years on a religious mission in Bulgaria.
The Grizzlies wrapped up the evening with fourth-ranked senior Kyle Sand recording a 10-2 major decision over Tigers freshman Steven Kyler at 197 pounds before redshirt freshman Taylor Stam pinned Tigers sophomore Justin Glenn in the heavyweight match.
Sand improved to 19-5 overall with a 9-1 mark in duals, and has now won six straight matches. Stam improved to 4-6 overall and recorded his first career win by fall.
The Grizzlies’ schedule, after a stretch of five duals over the past two weeks, will lighten up a bit for the rest of the season with single-dual weeks over the course of the next three weeks, starting on Jan. 28 on the road against hated arch-rival Western State. The Mountaineers are currently ranked 13th in the nation.
What’s Been Said…